The Flames are still at least 11 cuts away from their final roster, but it's never too early to take stock on the comings and goings of training camp.
First game at home tonight, and with the club 25% of the way through their meaningless schedule before the puck drops Calgarypuck.com takes a look at how camp is unfolding.
Darryl Sutter made full use of the beneficial preseason schedule afforded his hockey club.
With the first two games on the road, and less than 24 hours apart on the old sun dial, he did what any “my team comes first” coach would do. Split his team in two, dress the feathers out of his AHL guys and get down to manageable numbers in one weekend.
The team went from 51 players to a mere 34 after sending a brutal roster to Edmonton for a 2-1 shoot out loss, and a significantly better team to Chicago for a 6-5 nail biter in the Windy City.
This allowed him to get the numbers under control without disappointing home fans looking to see their stars.
Yet he still hasn't played all his veterans, and not a single vet has been forced to play both games of the back to back. Miikka Kiprusoff for example has yet to see the ice, though that should change tonight.
Before camp officially opened, Calgarypuck.com launched their Camp Guide and roster of 51, each of which were classified into four categories; Lock, Bubble, Long Shot, and unclassified (which would house the camp filler and young players with little chance of sticking).
Through the 17 player cut not a single Lock or Bubble player was jettisoned, and only two Long Shot players (Zenith Komarniski, and Cam Severson) were sent packing.
By process of subtraction that then leaves a few players that have held on perhaps longer than their expected departure date. These players would include the Steve Bancroft who is in fact hurt and out of the lineup, as well as a handful of players that have clearly made a good impression.
Tomi Maki – not big but tenacious, and solid on his skates. The fact that it's his first spin in North America speaks volumes as he could have been an easy assignment with the rest of the Omaha crew. Likely a player in the Flames plans, but not his fall.
David Moss – like Maki, he's not making a lot of noise, but the fact that he's still here and that it's his first camp is a good sign for the US College product.
Curtis McElhinney – Pretty clearly the fourth guy on the totem poll but he's played well in the practices, but hasn't seen any game action yet. The Omaha guys will need someone to shoot at though so he could see some ice tonight. Either way a good sign that he's held on.
Mark Giordano – one of the camps pleasant surprises. He along with Robyn Regehr's younger brother Ritchie has shown that the Flames do in fact have some call up options this year even if the top seven roster spots will be virtually impossible to crack. The free agent signee has offensive instincts so his timing for arriving on the scene is perfect.
Ritchie Regehr – rated as a long shot coming in by Calgarypuck, and he hasn't disappointed, perhaps even elevating his chances to Bubble.
The surprises to this point are to the added depth pleasant surprise and not to the veteran about to lose his job scenario.
Both Ritchie Regehr and Mark Giordano are making enough noise to possible challenge Steve Montador and the 7th defenceman spot however, and that should prove interesting.
Up front one could argue that OHL plugger Brandon Prust may be stealing a little of the pre-camp thunder away from both Eric Nystrom and to a lesser extent Tomi Maki.
In goal there just hasn't been enough definitive play to make a call for the backup spot.
To this point we just haven't seen enough five on five play to effectively judge veteran play.
Check back soon for further updates as the roster gets widdled down further.